Some of America’s most fascinating farmers markets are happening in NorCal. In San Francisco, the historic Ferry Building has played host to a farmers market since 1993. Under the shadow of the city’s most famous clock tower, and alongside its food hall, the Ferry Plaza Farmers Market now runs three times a week to keep up with demand. And just across the bay in East Oakland, The AKOMA Outdoor Market is one of the most progressive markets in the East Bay. Hosted every weekend at Liberation Park, this market offers vendors, most of whom are people of color, a place to thrive in their community—alongside yoga, art exhibits, and food trucks.
In the wake of COVID-19 that’s upended so many aspects of our daily lives, farmers markets in the Bay Area and cities across the country are continuing to serve a multitude of their communities’ needs. Sustenance, of course — markets, as always, are brimming over with local specialties from produce and honey, to meats, handicrafts and baked goods. But in a year of change, farmers markets are also serving our need for community — where we can support the farmers and artisans who make our food, while getting a little fresh air, sunshine, and people-watching.
Naturally, new precautions are needed to deliver the goods. Vendors are adapting rapidly with the help of contactless payments systems, new options for online ordering, pickup and delivery, and other ways of letting shoppers access the market’s bounty and support their local food producers. Read on for how the Bay Area’s best are rising to the occasion, and continuing to provide this vital link in our food chain.
Contactless payments are the way to go
Many markets were already ahead of the curve with the adoption of contactless payments. During this time, vendors and shoppers alike are turning to Apple Pay, the easier, safer way to pay. Set up Apple Pay before you go.
Or, let the market come to you
Want to support your local producers without hitting the market in-person? That’s an option now, too. At Ferry Plaza Farmers Market and AKOMA Market, you can pre-order online through Square for curbside pickup and delivery. Pick up at designated (and socially distanced) waiting areas or curbside, in the comfort and convenience of your own car. Or instead of schlepping armfuls of groceries to and from your home, you can opt for fresh produce to be sent straight to your door, or have a homemade gift delivered to loved ones.
Nonprofit groups like the Center for Urban Education about Sustainable Agriculture (CUESA), which has run the Ferry Plaza Farmers Market since 1999, have brought the farmers market home. At Ferry Plaza, you can order a curated produce or fruit box featuring the market’s best and freshest seasonal offerings to feed a family for a week, while directly supporting local, sustainable farms. The organizers of AKOMA Market have put together limited-edition gift boxes to support a variety of vendors that include such goodies as pastries, textiles, spiritual self-care items, and white sage. Everything you love about the market, in one box, delivered to your door — convenient for shoppers, and a boon to producers, too.
Supporting the vital links in our food chain
Online pre-ordering and market boxes don’t just help shoppers — they’re a critical way of supporting local food vendors, too. Molly Baker, who runs beloved source of local organic produce Lonely Mountain Farm with her husband Kenny, says that CUESA’s efforts to adapt “have given us farmers some weekly financial stability in the place restaurant orders used to fill.” Each week, CUESA makes bulk purchases of items farmers have in abundance that week for inclusion in the market boxes. “It has really helped boost our overall sales and get our products out to more people,” Baker says.
Other farmers like Sandi McGinnis-Garcia of McGinnis Ranch, echo those sentiments: “CUESA pivoted their logistics to allow us to harvest crops that we planted several months ago, so the links in the food chain can continue to be connected.”
How to support some of the Bay Area’s best markets
Farmers markets will be able to serve their communities more effectively, keep their vendors busy, grow their customer base, and spread the joys of fresh, healthy food. In fact, it’s already happening — this weekend. And the one next week.
Read on to learn more and order directly from the best farmers markets in the Bay Area.
AKOMA Outdoor Market, 6955 Foothill Blvd., Oakland, CA 94605. Hours: Fri 2pm - 5pm.
AKOMA Outdoor Market is a farmers market at Liberation Park in Deep East Oakland that highlights primarily local POC farmers, vendors, organizations, and artists. In addition to fresh fruits, vegetables, and pastries, the market also offers a variety of wellness and self-care items, and the option to shop in person, or place your order online for home delivery. The market hosts outdoor, donation-based yoga on Sundays at 9am.
Ferry Plaza Farmers Market, One Ferry Building #50, San Francisco, CA 94111. Hours: Sat 8am - 2pm, Tue + Thu - 10am - 2pm.
The Ferry Plaza Farmers Market is a triweekly California Certified Farmers Market operated by CUESA at the San Francisco Ferry Building. Since 1993, the market has served as a crucial link between city dwellers and local farmers, renowned for its diverse offering of delicious, high-quality products from California’s cutting-edge sustainable growers, producers, and chefs, as well as education programs to connect eaters with a local foodshed.